As unbelievable as it sounds, HPâs CEO, who got fired yesterday, is said to have hadÂ no idea the Board of Directors was even thinking about replacing him according to Bloomberg.Â Apotheker, who came from SAP, had just served slightly less than a year before getting the boot. My, how time flies.
Theyâve replaced Apotheker with Meg Whitman who made a gazillion dollars at eBay before an unsuccessful run at a Senate seat in California. When hearing the news of her new job, many pundits, grand puhbahs, and the Silicon Valley âBrahminâ remarked she was the worst replacement anyone could think of.Â But, thatâs another story; letâs get back to Apothekerâs abysmal stakeholder engagement practices.
According to theÂ NY Times, the Board felt that Mr. Apotheker âbungledâ communicating plans for spinning off the PC business, acquiring a software company for $11.7 billion, and closing a line of mobile devices. In baseball, itâs three strikes and youâre out; same at HP if youâre the CEO. By many accounts, the guy sat his desk and made these major business decisions with very little input, and without consulting the very people and business partners who would be affected the most (in project management we call them internal and external stakeholders).
Did he ever bother to pick up a phone and call any of them? Did he not invite them over for dinner to discuss the issues? Or, maybe, in the land of lattes and chai, it appears he didnât even ask someone to go to Philz Coffee House to “chew the fact” onÂ any of this?
But the most remarkable fact of this fairy tale is that Apotheker is said not to have had a clue that the Board was going to fire him. Actually, they planned on getting rid of him 3 months ago, only 8 months into his term.Â I donât think he was sitting alone in his office. I think he was hiding in a cave! Maybe he was harder to find than Saddam Hussein!
CEOs serve at the pleasure of a Board of Directors. HPâs Board, by many accounts, is dysfunctional and is the poster child for poor governance (remember how they botched the firing of Mark Hurd?). But even if Apotheker worked for a bunch of boobs that doesnât excuse the fact, if true, that he was skipping and whistling on his way to work and had no idea his key stakeholders werenât pleased with his performance.
How about you? Are you key stakeholders plotting against you? Do you know if youâre going to get fired? How many strikes do you have against you? Are you keeping your finger on the pulse of your stakeholders?
By the way, Apotheker will definitely have the last laugh. In America you make a lot of money getting sacked. Looks like the guy will walk away from HP with a cool $38 million for only 11 months at HP. Where can I get a job like that?